A 12-acre site at the coal-fired Lambton Generation Station near Courtright, ON will be home to a 300-megawatt natural gas power plant, Ontario Energy Minister Chris Bentley said Tuesday, July 10, 2012.
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"The Liberals have won all five seats in Mississauga, Ont., handily so they will see this cancellation as a big success," Rick Jennings, an assistant deputy minister at the energy ministry, wrote to the director of energy supply Garry McKeever the evening of Oct. 6, as election results rolled in.
"You're forgetting that the premier said it had nothing to do with getting votes," McKeever replied minutes later.
The exchange demonstrates just how aware the bureaucracy was of the political implications of the decision, which will cost the public $180 million to settle a lawsuit with the company contracted to build the plant, New Democrat energy critic Peter Tabuns said Thursday.
"They understood they were dealing with a highly political decision, no longer a technical decision," Tabuns said.
Energy Minister Chris Bentley, in an appearance before the legislature's estimates committee on Wednesday, conceded the decision to cancel the Mississauga South gas plant was made by the Liberal Party in light of the vocal opposition from area residents.
Bentley said the $180-million cost to settle lawsuits both here and in the United States and relocate the 280-megawatt gas plant to Sarnia, ON, was necessary to fulfill the Liberal campaign promise and that criticism from opposition parties ignores the fact both New Democrats and Progressive Conservatives were committed to moving the plant as well.
Opposition members of the committee asked for the government to release all correspondence it had on the decision to cancel the plant in September 2011, just weeks before election day.
But Tabuns said there's no record of then-energy minister Brad Duguid being involved in the decision.
"Was it one of the leaders of the election campaign, perhaps (campaign director) Don Guy, saying, 'Look you're going to lose these seats. Make this decision'?
"You move energy planning in Ontario from any sort of analysis to straightforward electoral considerations," Tabuns said.